11th Meeting of the Presidents of the Bishops’ Conferences of South-east Europe.
Nicosia (Cyprus) from 3-6 March 2011
With just a few months to go until the start of XXVI World Youth Day (Madrid, 16-21 August 2011), the topic of pastoral care with young people will be at the heart of the reflections for the 11th meeting of the Presidents of the Bishops’ Conferences of South-east Europe which this year will take place in Nicosia on the island of Cyprus (3-6 March 2011) at the invitation of His Grace Mgr Youssef Soueif, the Maronite Archbishop of Cyprus.
Nine Bishops’ Conferences will be represented: Albania, Bosnia Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Moldova, Romania, the SS Cyril and Methodius International Conference, and Turkey. In the course of the meeting there will also be interventions from His Beatitude the Orthodox Archbishop of Cyprus, Chrysostomos II; His Beatitude the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Fouad Twal; the Apostolic Nuncio, His Grace Mgr Antonio Franco; the representative of the Maronite Patriarchate, His Grace Mgr Guy Noujaim; and the Holy See’s Permanent Observer at the Council of Europe, Mgr Aldo Giordano.
The main topic will be introduced by Rev. Eric Jacquinet, in charge of the Youth Section of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, and by Rev. Francesco Pierpaoli, Director of the John Paul II Centre in Loreto, and there will then be reports from the individual Bishops’ Conferences.
“Through this meeting we want to examine what tools and methods our Bishops’ Conferences have put in place for young people. To proclaim Christ today to a young person belonging to a minority Church and having lived through a difficult history, marked by different forms of totalitarianism, which does not seems to be his or hers, and the child of a present full of social and national tensions, calls for love and a greater effort of understanding on our part, as pastors, but at the same time constitutes a richness for our Churches which feel reborn precisely by that vitality which is typical of young people”, said His Lordship Mgr Franjo Komarica, Bishop of Banja Luka and President of the Bishops’ Conference of Bosnia Herzegovina. “Our Churches know that the future of these small communities of ours depends on their ability to interpret the meaningful questions of their young people and respond to them in a creative and above all truthful manner. Today, being a young Catholic in our countries is not easy, but it is a challenge rich with so many good opportunities. It means, on the one hand, accepting feeling “different” from the majority of the local people even up to the point of being discriminated against on an employment and social level, and, on the other hand, it means understanding better the content of a faith which brings certainty and joy to those who live it. For this reason, it is our task to put in place what is possible to help our young people to live, without an inferiority complex, and live their faith with dignity. That means showing them through word and testimony that they can live as Christians and that, despite the difficulties, it is worth following Jesus the true consoler and giver of real joy”.
For the local Catholic Archbishop of the Maronites in Cyprus, His Grace Mgr Youssef Soueif, the Church’s concern for the young people on the island takes on particular connotations. “In Cyprus, the young people are really a sign of hope and life. They have a dynamism and a capacity to create a new world, a new mentality, based on the balance between awareness of their own identity and openness to difference. So”, the Archbishop continued, “our primary task is to help them to be, yes, rooted in Maronite culture, but at the same time to be open to the richness of the diversity which manifests itself in the various cultures and communities present in Cyprus. Young Catholics, be they Maronite, Latin or of another rite, are therefore called to know their own identity and faith dimension. They are called to witness to the spirit of unity in love and service. Love of all people, openness to collaboration with everyone at human, social and spiritual levels in certain pastoral contexts and areas, are the elements which characterise our pastoral work with young people. We are particularly attentive”, Mgr Soueif went on, “to this education in the culture of the other person, of difference, accepting diversity and working for the one society of Cyprus characterised by conviviality and multi-culturalism, in a system based on justice and peace . For this reason in Cyprus I would like all the houses of God (Churches, monasteries and mosques) to be open to everyone and be places of fraternity, reconciliation and peace. Therefore we are particularly committed to working with young people in the Maronite villages in the north of the island which provide an opportunity to inspire the younger generations to return to their villages. In the north of the island, the disappearance of the Maronite villages would be a great loss to the whole of Cypriot society”.
The reflection on pastoral care with young people will have an appropriate conclusion with a celebration with young people and pastoral groups in the ‘Saint Maron’ school in Anthoupolis, on the evening of Saturday 5 March (beginning at 1930).
Another aspect of the work includes a series of meetings of an ecumenical nature and with the local Catholic community. In particular, participants will meet:
- the orthodox Metropolitan Georgios of Paphos (Friday 4 March at 1630);
- in Limassol, priests and religious present in Cyprus (Friday 4 March at 1930). This meeting will be preceded by the celebration of Mass at 1830 in the Church of Saint Catherine;
- the Franciscans present in Nicosia at the Church of the Holy Cross (Saturday 5 March at 1300).
In addition, the participants will visit:
- the Archdiocese’s collection of ancient and modern icons housed in the residence of the Maronite Archbishop of Nicosia (Friday 4 March at 1300);
- the Byzantine Museum in the Orthodox Archbishop’s residence in Nicosia (Saturday 5 March at 1300).
On Saturday 5 March at 1430, the bishops will visit some of the communities in Maronite villages (Assomatos, Karpasha and Kormakitis) in the north of the island to show their solidarity to a community divided by the separation of the island. The visit will end with the celebration of Mass in Kormakitis. On Sunday 6 March, participants will visit the Church of Ayia Marina in Kotsiatis.
The meeting will come to an end with the celebration of Mass on Sunday 6 March at 1000 in the Maronite Cathedral of Our Lady of Graces.
The meeting will take place behind closed doors. However, journalists will be allowed to attend the opening session on Thursday 3 March from 1800-1930. Work at the meeting will be conducted in Italian.
=> A News Conference will take place on Saturday 5 March at 1200 at Nicosia’s Hilton Hotel. Present will be:
- His Grace Mgr Youssef Soueif, the Maronite Archbishop of Cyprus
- His Grace Mgr Ioannis Spiteris, Archbishop of Corfù
A News Release will be issued on Monday 7 March 2011.
LIST OF PRESIDENTS PARTICIPATING
Albania – His Grace Mgr Rrok Mirdita, Metropolitan Archbishop of Tiranë-Durrës
Bosnia Herzegovina – His Lordship Mgr Franjo Komarica, Bishop of Banja Luka
Bulgaria – His Grace Mgr Christo Proykov, Apostolic Exarch of Sofia
Cyprus – His Grace Mgr Youssef Soueif, Maronite Archbishop of Cyprus
Greece - His Grace Mgr Ioannis Spiteris, Archbishop of Corfù (delegate for the President)
Moldova – His Lordship Mgr Anton Cosa, Bishop of Chişinău
Romania – His Lordship Mgr Virgil Bercea, Bishop of Oradea Mare (delegate for the President)
SS. Cyril and Methodius – His Lordship Mgr Djuro Gasparovic, Bishop of Srijem (delegate for the President)
Turkey – Fr Francis Dondu OFM Cap, Vicar General of the Apostolic Vicariate of Anatolia
His Grace Mgr Antonio Franco, Apostolic Nuncio to Cyprus
Mgr Aldo Giordano, Permanent Observer – Special Envoy of the Holy See to the Council of Europe
Rev Eric Jacquinet, responsible for the Youth Section of the Pontifical Council for the Laity
His Beatitude Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem
His Grace Mgr Guy Noujaim, representing the Maronite’s Patriarchate
Rev Francesco Pierpaoli, Director of the John Paul II Centre, Loreto
Fr Duarte da Cunha, CCEE General Secretary
The Council of the Bishops’ Conferences of Europe (CCEE) gathers the Presidents of the current 33 European Bishops’ Conferences of this continent, represented by their Presidents, and the Archbishops of Luxembourg, the Principality of Monaco, and the Maronite Archbishop of Cyprus, as well as the Bishop of Chişinău (Republic of Moldova). The President is Cardinal Péter Erdő, Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, Primate of Hungary; the Vice-presidents are Cardinal Josip Bozanić, Archbishop of Zagreb, and Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, Archbishop of Bordeaux. The CCEE General Secretary is Fr Duarte da Cunha. The headquarters of the Secretariat is in St Gallen (Switzerland)
For further information:
Thierry Bonaventura, CCEE Media Officer
Tel: +41-71-227 60 40 - Mobile: +41-78-851 60 40 - thierry.bonaventuraccee.ch
Tel +357 / 25 / 156 622 - telesforacytanet.com.cy
The Maronite Church is a sui iuris Catholic Church (that is to say it has its own rites and liturgy deriving from the Syro-Antiochene tradition. Its Patriarch is elected by the Synod of Bishops and only after the election makes a profession of communion with the Roman Pontiff). The Maronites are essentially present in the Lebanon. The origins of the Maronite Church go back to Saint Maron and his monastery (Apamea, Syria). The Maronites have been present in Cyprus since the start of the 9th century. The Maronite Church is the only Eastern Catholic Church which did not arise out of opposition to the Orthodox Church. The current Seat of the Patriarchate is in the Lebanon. For further information see: www.bkerke.org.lb/